Discuss and Evaluate Factors Affecting the Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony

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As our minds are unlike cameras it is difficult to recall events with 100% accuracy. Many things can influence our recollection of events. Our pre existing bias and stereotypes can colour our memories, as can information obtained following the event. Therefore our memory of events are reconstructed from various sources, thus what we think may not always be to a high degree of accuracy. When considering the role of memory in the law, the issue of the fallibility of human memory is especially important. Eyewitnesses to crimes recall their memories in court rooms and errors made can lead to wrongful conviction or wrongful acquittal of defendants. In the USA, eyewitness misidentification is the single most cause of wrongful convictions. The Innocence Project has therefore been set up as an organisation to clear the names of those wrongly convicted, by using strong DNA evidence to overturn the rest of the evidence. Much of the research into eyewitness testimony (EWT) derived from the cognitive approach, therefore much of the evidence is based on the scientific method, such as the use of laboratory studies. Bartlett first proposed the theory that memory is not always a complete reproduction of a witnessed event. He argued that memory is reconstructed from various pieces of information. Thus memories can be inaccurate. We reconstruct the past by trying to make it fit into our existing understanding of the world, by making it more logical, coherent and generally sensible. Bartlett called it schemata, these are mental shortcuts; little pockets of knowledge used to judge new knowledge. Bartlett argued that schemata have a powerful affect on memories as they fill in the gaps, that are incomplete in our memories. An experiment by Carmicheal supported this. In the experiment two different groups were shown the same images but with a different word next to
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